With roads set to be busier than ever in December and holidaymakers preparing to head off on much-needed breaks, the chances of becoming involved in an accident – particularly one that takes place while you’re away on holiday – increases significantly. It’s important to be prepared in the event of such an incident.

This is especially important when driving a rental vehicle, and things can become very complicated in the event of an accident or theft, said insurer MiWay.

“What’s important to remember is that car hire companies cannot offer insurance, so there’s no real way to avoid any form of liability in the event of damage or loss,” said MiWay.

“What they do offer are responsibility waivers, which limit your liability to a set amount. Much like the excess on an insurance policy, you’ll be expected to pay anywhere between R3,000 and R14,000 to the car hire company should things go awry, depending on the waiver you choose.

“If you decline the waiver, you’ll be completely responsible for all damages, so make sure you know what you are or aren’t signing.”

Understand the exceptions

Opting for a waiver still doesn’t exemplify you from responsibility in all circumstances, warned MiWay.

“Many car hire companies will void these waivers if the car is damaged as a result of being driven on unsuitable roads or in areas of unrest. Equally, waivers are unlikely to cover you in the event of reckless or drunken driving, or if you’re involved in an accident in which no third party is involved.”

Know what to do

“If you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to document the scene as much as possible, so take photos if you can in order to assist your claim. It’s also vital that you alert the authorities and retrieve all the relevant details of the other party involved, as well as all witnesses,” it said.

This includes informing your own insurance company that you’ve been involved in an accident, even if you’re not claiming against your own policy, said MiWay.

“It’s vital to note that, even though you may not have caused the accident, you are still responsible for the amount not covered by the waiver. And while the insurer will attempt to recover this from a third party if they’re to blame, this isn’t always possible, particularly if they’re not insured.”